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Archive for the ‘analysis’ Category

In the past couple weeks, much has been written about electronics retail giant Best Buy. I can only recall a handful of stories that generated the kind of attention and social media reaction Forbes writer Larry Downes has gotten with his post about Best Buy going out of business…gradually. But when you hypothesize that one of our country’s great business success stories is about to crumble, you might expect a little attention.

Buttons have been pushed. Nerves touched. Wires crossed.

In the end, retail shopping is about consumer experience. Let’s face it, the world’s largest consumer electronics retailer is never going to make every transaction a pleasant “win” for both the consumer and the company. It just can’t happen. That said, Best Buy must strive to be better than its previous best. The company must hire savvy store managers, train its floor sales people thoroughly, streamline its checkout process, and take every possible step to curry favor with consumers. All that while it expands its Internet business to compete with the likes of Amazon and other mega online retailers. No small feat.

For all the comments (mostly negative toward BBY) that Downes’s blog post has received there are, no doubt, millions of happy Best Buy customers who don’t make time to vocalize their public support of the company.

I’ll take the time.

In 2011, I purchased a 42-inch Insignia television from Best Buy. The sales rep was extremely helpful. The checkout and pickup process effortless. I was asked once, and only once, about my need for HDMI cables and an extended warranty plan. I declined both offers, paid for the product. End of story.  Did I mention the sales rep was extremely helpful. He was no more than 20 years old, but knew his shit when it came to TV technology. And when his store didn’t have the size that I wanted, he found it at another location convenient to me.

And that’s how customer loyalty is won.

Granted, Best Buy has hiccupped its way through the holiday season. But rather than estimating that the doors of this company will be shuttered and locked within 24 months, I’ll place my bets that the world’s largest electronics retailer will figure out its next growth step…and nail it.

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The Catholic Church in Minnesota recently mailed out 400,000 DVDs to its parishioners in the state, asking them to accept the church’s belief that gay marriage is wrong for human beings. In fact, gay marriage is so bad for the rest of the world, the Catholic leadership wants lawmakers to pass a new law forbidding it. It’s about six weeks before an election, see, and the church would really like its people to vote for candidates who oppose gay marriage.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune published this piece last week (Sept. 20).

Then, an art curator at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis decided to produce a sculpture using DVDs provided to her by other Catholics who are opposed to its content. It’s her way of taking a stand against the church’s teaching on gay marriage. She was summarily terminated from her job, of course, and the Star Tribune published this article about the debacle.

As I read the story and readers’ comments, this one struck me as the most relevant…so I wanted to share it here. Naturally, not all good Catholics are anti-marriage. Some actually think with a reasonable and “modern” process about the issue. Here’s the reader’s comment from the newspaper:

Where did the $400,000 for the DVD come from?

First, I’m a parishioner at St. Mary’s, and like many fellow parishioners, my wife and I are planning to donate the archbishop’s DVD to Ms. Naylor’s art work. We feel this work of art is the perfect response to the archbishop’s actions, and it’s the Holy Spirit at work. Second, the archbishop has clearly crossed a line of political lobbying that is totally inappropriate. The church lobbies on behalf of the poor, children and others who need the protection of the church. The church builds schools, hospitals and shelters to serve, according to Christ’s command. That’s not what this DVD is about. This is the archbishop telling Catholics how to vote to change the constitution of the secular state of Minnesota. Minnesota and the United States are secular institutions which have laws and constitutions to protect the rights of all–regardless of religious belief. Instead of fighting for the poor, Archbishop Nienstedt is fighting to get Catholic theology into the constitution of the state of Minnesota where it would govern anyone, Catholic or not. We’re not a theocracy–like Iran or Saudi Arabia. We’re America, a secular society, and one of our core beliefs is freedom of religion. That includes freedom *from* religion. I don’t want my church dictating to people outside the church. It used to be illegal to buy contraceptives in many states, because archbishops demanded laws against it. They misused the authority of the church then, just as Archbishop Nienstedt has misused his authority now. Finally, I have to ask: where did this $400,000 come from? Was it a donor? Who was the donor? What else has the donor given money to? And if it wasn’t from a donor, how can the Archbishop order $400,000 be taken from the church’s budget and spent on this theocratic attempt to deprive some non-catholics of their civil rights? That money could run a daycare center in north Minneapolis for 250 kids for a year. Or a homeless shelter. Or it could have been spent lobbying the legislature to stop cutting funding for education. The number one subject Christ talks about in the New Testament is about the poor–not fighting to take away rights that are due to others. The appropriate place for the archbishop to plead his case for the church’s view of the institution of marriage is from the pulpit. Instead he wasted desperately needed $400,000 of funds on an arrogant attempt to decree Catholic law should be secular law. Each year there is a special collection at St. Mary’s, as in all diocese churches, for the Archbishops Fund. Each year as the scandals have grown in the church, the amount of donations has shrunk. So long as Archbishop Nienstedt leads the bishops of Minnesota in this kind of arrogant theocratic campaigns, ours is one parish household that will give our money elsewhere to help the poor and the forgotten. Rohn Jay Miller, parishioner at the Basilica of St. Mary.

Amen Brother!

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Elitists feel they have outstanding personal abilities, intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience, or some other distinctive attributes, and therefore their views and ideas must be taken more seriously or carry more weight. In addition, they may assume special privileges and responsibilities and feel they have earned certain rights that others do not or should not have based on their level or position in society.

The proliferation of elitism has been underway since the dawn of human kind. What’s become worse in the past two decades is how many people automatically place themselves into this elitist category with no basis of reason. As populists in society strive toward breaking down the walls and barriers created by the elite (to ensure everyone has the same human rights and opportunities), elites attempt to further widen and deepen their moat protecting their belief that the privileged few have every right to make and enforce the rules.

What’s more, the new elites stem from recent generations of children who grew up expecting life to be handed to them in perfect order – further widening the gap between the haves and have nots. In fact, the common middle class that most of us grew up in, has now latched firmly on to the orbit of the elite.

The hard work our mothers and fathers once performed – the work that made our nation strong – has been tossed out with the bath water in the past 20 years. The yuppies, Gen-Xers and Millenials feel society owes them the vast rewards of life simply for waking up and putting on their socks.

And since elitism endorses the exclusion of large numbers of people from positions of privilege or power, this class in our society is essentially turning its collective head further and further away from its roots – away from the very parents or grandparents who worked two shifts so the family could enjoy a warm home, a reliable car and new shoes as the kids’ feet grew. Today, the 4,000-square-foot homes, Beemers, Audis and Mercedes are not the exception, they are the rule.

I’m sick and I’m tired of 20-somethings and younger walking around with their hands out – like baby birds waiting to be fed and chirping their beaks off until the mother Robin satiates their demands. These kids, our children, are clueless. They lack responsibility, respect and a fundamental concept of what labor is all about.

How are we suppose to begin fixing the recent economic malaise in the United States and globally, when our “most valuable asset,” our best and brightest, are entering the workforce with no concept of what work is all about? The learnings that once came with earning a decent wage for a decent day’s work are gone.

We’ve created the “gimme” culture of elitists and I’ve never been more personally disgusted and disappointed by a mind set than this one.

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I’m a blog thief today. This idea comes from gentiana from her blog “Headfile.”

Go ahead, try to come up with 10 really unique things that no one else is likely able to say they’ve done as well.

1) I cycled across the state of Iowa

2) I shook the hand of former Vice President Walter Mondale

3) I played slip and slide on a kitchen floor using pickle juice as lubrication (don’t ask)

4) I changed the points and condenser on a four-cycle engine

5) I parked an 18-wheeler in reverse at a loading dock

6) I played drums on “Proud Mary” complete with cowbell intro

7) I coordinated a pig race and exotic chicken exhibit at a county fair preview/media event

8) I flipped hamburgers backstage during a summer music festival featuring Big Head Todd and The Monsters

9)  I photographed Microsoft Founder Bill Gates while golfing (he was golfing, I don’t golf)

10)  I made an apple pie for my kids for Christmas

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Who on the planet pulled a parsnip from the ground and thought, “Hmm. This looks good. Let’s eat!”?

ParsnipsPerhaps one of the ugliest of all root vegetables, parsnips are downright unappealing as a potential food item. No wonder all recommendations are to cube these suckers into small bits and cook them to death!

While they might go well in a stew, this cousin of wax-covered chalk, with a consistency of rolled up carpet, has managed to maintain its prominence in the produce section of grocery stores everywhere for…well…ever!

What’s worse, they came packaged in a bundle of six. SIX! I used three in a stew that called for two. I think I could put the balance of my parsnip inventory in a dark corner of the basement and forget them until next year – and they’d still be perfectly ready to be peeled and cooked.

The upside to parsnips come in its nutritional value. They have a great amount of potassium, although I prefer bananas during a lengthy bike ride to one of these dead clammy roots. They’re also mildly loaded with carbs.

And what nimble root veggie scientist looked at this and named it a parsnip? Did it remind him/her of a pair of nipples? Is it really pinsrap in disguise? At least the sweet potato has a meaningful name. It looks like a potato and it has a sweet taste. But “parsnip?” I’m stumped!

Coming up next, the sexuality of eggplant.

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Blue

Blue represents oceans, skies, the uniform color of Union soldiers, alcoholic beverages, and moods. A government funded study indicated that blue (or shades thereof) is the most often cited “favorite” color by a majority of people surveyed.

Blue has long been the subject of artists who write and perform poetry, lyricists and musicians. The following several songs are pure blue, if not by title, by the tone they set.

For example, “My Immortal,” from the rangey voice of Amy Lee and her band Evanescence.

One of my favorite male voices, Chris Isaak, released “Blue Hotel.” I’ve never stayed in a blue hotel. I’ve stayed in a gray one and if memory serves it had a blue sign. I never felt blue during my stay though.

I have to be in a “mood” to listen to Enya, but when I am this song, “Caribbean Blue” seems to change my position – whatever it might be. The video is quite fascinating to watch as well – especially if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be part of a storybook.

Lastly, here’s ELO singing “Mr. Blue Sky” with animation provided by The Gorillaz. I was going to post the original ELO version here, but this vid is a lot more interesting.

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Your Superpower Should Be Manipulating Electricity

ElectroYou’re highly reactive, energetic, and super charged.

If the occasion calls for it, you can go from 0 to 60 in a split second. But you don’t harness your energy unless you truly need to.

And because of this, people are often surprised by what you are capable of.

Why you would be a good superhero: You have the stamina to fight enemies for days.

Your biggest problem as a superhero: As with your normal life, people would continue to underestimate you.

What’s your super power? 

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